Thursday, February 16, 2017

COSATU's Response to the Unemployment Statistics
The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted that South Africa's jobless rate fell slightly to 26.5 percent of the labour force in the fourth quarter of 2016, from 27.1 percent in the third quarter, according to Statistics South Africa's Quarterly Labour Force Survey. This report also pointed out that the expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who have stopped looking for work, decreased to 35.6 percent in the fourth quarter, from 36.3 percent in the previous quarter.

This slight decline in the official unemployment rate by 0,6 of percentage is welcome but it is still 2,0% points higher compared to the same period last year.

Unemployment is the number one crisis that South Africa is facing. A growing number of South African workers are employed in atypical jobs; sub contracting and casualisation is becoming the order of the day. All this means that huge numbers of our people are trapped in grinding poverty.

This report will be encouraging but we suspect that some of the employed workers reflected here in this report were December holiday part-time workers. The federation reiterates its position that unemployment problem in South Africa will not be addressed if the flawed structure of the South African economy is left intact.

This country needs to help support the small business sector in this country if we are to resolve the legacy of concentration and domination of the South African economy by a few monopolies. There has to be a deliberate effort to create more space for SA small firms to succeed and create jobs for the 9 million unemployed workers. Government should help reduce the costs of high administered prices like electricity, transport costs, non- availability of cheap finance, and also resolve the issue of contractionary macroeconomic policies, which stifle the impact of industrial policy.

We are worried by the continuing investment strike by big business. We acknowledge that the SA government has adopted the National Development Plan, the New Growth Path and the Industrial Policy Action Plans. Therefore we view business's reluctance to reinvest profits in SA as a form of political pressure rather for business reasons.

COSATU is encouraged though by the messages that have been coming from the ANC and recently the president of the country, Cde Jacob Zuma on the economy. We are encouraged to see that the current administration is abandoning its indecisiveness and previous retreat from some mandates of Polokwane and Mangaung. We want to encourage the ANC and its government to extend this refreshing approach to the budget and interest rate policies. We cannot afford to continue with the same macroeconomic policy framework if we are honest in prioritising job creation and the transformation of the economy.

We reiterate our call for a decisive state intervention in strategic sectors of the economy, including through strategic nationalisation and state ownership. We are happy to hear government saying that they are ready to use the levers at its disposal to regulate and channel investment, production, consumption and trade to deliberately drive industrialisation, sustainable development and decent employment creation. The important and progressive policies that could tackle unemployment, inequality and poverty have to be implemented.

This year should mark a turning point in the long trajectory of self destruction of our movement, since 1996 to a new path of a people centred development trajectory and a disciplined movement. The people are now increasingly running out of patience and the ANC is increasingly running out of time. The federation will continue to firmly place this crisis on the national agenda. We now want short- and long-term solutions to the national crisis number one , which is unemployment.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)

Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Mobile: 060 975 6794- 082 558 5962

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